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In the Crossfire

Enron: 'Bipartisan sleazebag' or GOP's?

(CNN) -- Newly released Enron Corp. documents indicate the firm manipulated California's power system to boost profits during the state's power crisis. This prompted the White House on Tuesday to call for a vigorous investigation as Senate Democrats tried to revive a proposal to tighten energy trading rules. President Bush once counted Enron executives among his top campaign contributors. Does this mean the energy trading company curried favor with Republicans? Hosts James Carville and Robert Novak debate the issue.

CARVILLE: Time now for the Crossfire "Quote of the Day." It's about the Enron Corporation. Documents released yesterday show Enron traders manipulated California's power system to increase profits. Our quote is from a lawyer for the California Public Utilities Commission who says, quote: "To us, this is really the smoking gun memo. It's Enron's own attorneys admitting that Enron is manipulating the California market."

You know, of course Enron did this. But what's really in this memo that's really newsworthy is, quote, "that this ... is now being used by other market participants." Let me tell you something -- get this out of Trashcroft and Chernoff's hands. The attorney general of California -- start filing with the subpoenas and getting these people in here because these people were manipulating the market, and quit blaming Enron for everything.

NOVAK: James, I know exactly what you're doing. You're trying to make this a Democratic campaign issue. Enron -- wait a minute -- Enron was an equal opportunity bipartisan sleazebag. They got more money in the Clinton administration -- wait a minute -- I listen to you...

CARVILLE: That's not what I'm saying.

NOVAK: ... you listen to me.

CARVILLE: I'm saying it was more than Enron that was involved in this. And George Bush said he trusted the utility companies to manipulate the price. He said he trusted Cardinal Law while this was going on. There's something wrong with the people George Bush trusts.

NOVAK: If I could say something while you're interrupting, Carville, as a matter of fact, they received -- they receive more money from the Clinton administration on bank loans than they ever got from the Bush administration. And the idea of making this a partisan issue is sleazy and typical.

CARVILLE: Investigate it. Investigate it.




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